Japanese Motorists “Highly Satisfied” with Eco-Tyres’ Green Credentials
Japanese motorists that drive cars fitted with ‘fuel-efficient’ replacement market tyres have indicated in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2009 Japan Replacement Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study that they are “highly satisfied” with the contribution their tyres make to fuel economy. In Japan, fuel-efficient tyres have in recent times emerged as a major replacement market product category in addition to the traditional categories of sport, comfort/luxury and standard tyres.
While overall satisfaction among owners of fuel-efficient tyres is approximately the same as the industry average, satisfaction with these tyres’ contribution to fuel economy is considerably higher, averaging a rating of 6.1 on a 10-point scale, compared with the industry average of 5.7. Overall, 64 per cent of motorists using fuel-efficient replacement tyres say they place importance on fuel efficiency when selecting their tyre model. In addition, 38 per cent say they place importance on eco-friendliness when selecting their tyre model.
“The tyre labelling system that was introduced in January 2010 by the Japan Automobile Tyre Manufacturers Association may lead to increased competition between tire manufacturers, particularly for fuel-efficient tyres,” said Tetsushi Furuya, project manager at J.D. Power Asia Pacific. “This labelling system makes it easier for consumers to compare tyre attributes, so it is more critical than ever for tyre manufacturers to develop and promote products that meet increasing customer demand for fuel efficiency and eco-friendliness.”
J.D. Power’s inaugural study measured customer satisfaction with replacement tyres (excluding winter tyres) in four segments: mini-car/compact car, passenger car and minivan and SUV. Overall customer satisfaction with the replacement tyres was based on four factors: appearance, durability/reliability, handling/traction and ride/quietness. The study found that the relative importance of each factor varies by segment. Within the mini-car/compact car and passenger car segments, the handling/traction factor had the greatest importance in overall satisfaction, while in the minivan segment, the durability/reliability factor was the most important. As only one SUV brand with sufficient sample size existed, no SUV award ended up being presented.
Among the five brands included in the mini-car/compact car segment ranking, Yokohama ranked highest in customer satisfaction with an index score of 599 on a 1,000-point scale. Yokohama performed particularly well in the handling/traction, appearance and durability/reliability factors. Following Yokohama in the segment ranking were Toyo (594), Bridgestone (589) and Dunlop (588). Toyo performed particularly well in the ride/quietness factor.
Among the seven brands included in the passenger car segment ranking, Michelin ranked highest with a score of 681 and performed particularly well in all four factors. Following Michelin in the segment ranking were Bridgestone (660) and Pirelli (646).
Among the six brands included in the minivan segment ranking, Bridgestone ranked highest with a score of 618 and performed particularly well in all four factors. Following Bridgestone in the segment ranking were Michelin (612), which performed particularly well in the appearance factor, and Dunlop (605).
On average, 11 per cent of owners said they “definitely would” repurchase the same brand for their next set of replacement tyres. This figure increases to 37 per cent among owners who were highly satisfied with their current replacement tyres (scores averaging 800 or higher).
“It is imperative for tyre manufacturers to improve customer satisfaction in order to increase brand loyalty and the market share,” said Furuya. “In doing so, manufacturers may improve the likelihood of creating lifelong customers who will consistently turn to their brand when it comes time to replace their tyres.”
The 2009 Japan Replacement Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses from 6,995 vehicle owners during the first four to 15 months of ownership, who purchased their replacement tyres between August 2008 and July 2009. The Internet-based survey was conducted in November 2009.